Rates for vans and flatbeds are stable for the week, while reefer rates are more dynamic than ever, especially in produce markets.
Van rates are stable, at a national average of $1.37 per mile for line haul, or $1.86 including the fuel surcharge. With or without the surcharge, that's the highest average for vans in two years and $0.05 above the average line haul rate for June 2010. In the past week, rates held steady with a 0.3% rate increase in major markets led by outbound rates from California. Van rates from Stockton rose 2.4% and Los Angeles rates were up 1.2%. Nationwide, the average rate dipped 0.7% with most of the declining rates generated by backhaul lanes. Rates from Columbus were also down 2.7%, including a 12% drop in the lane from Columbus to Philadelphia for the seven days ending June 29.
Flatbed rates are finally quieting down, with a 0.5% decline in the national average and in major markets for the seven days ending June 29. As with vans, these are the highest average rates we have seen on the spot market for flatbeds: $1.74 for line haul, and $2.27 including fuel. Spot market rates exceeded contract rates by $0.01 as a national average in May. More often than not, carriers are getting higher rates from brokers than from shippers. This is a common phenomenon with reefers in the summer, but it's a first for flatbeds. The current stability may indicate that flatbed rates have peaked in mid-June, however. We'll know more in a few weeks, so stay tuned.
Produce season is revving up, affecting rates from markets that grow or import fruits and vegetables and driving reefer rates up 1.7% as a national average. Spot market rates exceeded contract rates in May, which is early. Usually this "crossover" first occurs in June. In 2010, spot market rates surpassed contract rates in July and September, as well. The average spot market rate jumped $0.10 from May to $1.70 for line haul ($2.20 including fuel) in June, and contract rates are unlikely to catch up any time soon. This year, we may see five straight "crossover" months, when carriers get higher rates from brokers than from shippers, as a national average. Individual markets and lanes vary, but brokers and shippers should expect to pay a premium to move refrigerated freight from now through September.